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Processes of Perception and Analysis

Introduction

In the course of the past several chapters, we have discussed the basic mechanisms responsible for a variety of phenomena that occur in nature. But in trying to explain our actual experience of the natural world, we need to consider not only how phenomena are produced in nature, but also how we perceive and analyze these phenomena. For inevitably our experience of the natural world is based in the end not directly on behavior that occurs in nature, but rather on the results of our perception and analysis of this behavior.

Thus, for example, when we look at the behavior of a particular natural system, there will be certain features that we notice with our eyes, and certain features, perhaps different, that we can detect by doing various kinds of mathematical or other analysis.

In previous chapters, I have argued that the basic mechanisms responsible for many processes that occur in nature can be captured by simple computer programs based on simple rules. But what about the processes that are involved in perception and analysis?

Particularly when it comes to the higher levels of perception, there is much that we do not know for certain about this. But what I will argue in this chapter is that the evidence we have suggests that the basic mechanisms at work can once again successfully be captured by simple programs based on simple rules.

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]